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February 2008

Port Royal EC Dressage 10 Feb

This was my 2nd competition with my new horse Trevor (Taurus III) . We had one outing in January at Middleton Park but had forgotten how spooky the indoor is there so I won't even mention what our marks were like! This time we had opted to ride outdoor so made the journey to Port Royal on the far side of York. Therefore, we were happy to see that it was a lovely, bright sunny day - there's nothing worse then competing outdoors in pouring rain!

Trevor at Port Royal

I just entered two Open Novice tests as I'm still getting used to Trevor and his big trot. I was a bit nervous in the first test so rode a cautious test, but Trevor behaved perfectly and I was happy to receive 60% and 6th place.

Trevor at Port Royal

In the next test I was more confident. Andrea Smith was judging and I always respect her marks and comments. We scored 64.4% - all 6s and 7s - no 5s, and the comment 'A promising partnership' in the collectives, which was nice. We came 3rd.

Para Training at Richmond 15 Feb

On 14th Feb - Valentine's Day - Breda, Eilish and our team trainer, Donie flew over from Ireland for a busy weekend of training and para competitions. James Joy had already been over to collect the two horses, Tula and Youri, and they were settled in to their stables in York.

Our Regional Para Rep, Cathy Burrell had arranged a test riding day at Richmond for Friday 15th with Margot Tiffany. This was a really good day with 6 or 7 riders attending. Each rider rode their chosen test and then had up to 45 mins with the judge to improve on the movements and how the horse was going. Trevor went really well despite two point-to-point horses having a gallop and popping over (and crashing into) a few fences in the next arena. It was a good chance for everyone to familiarise themselves with the surroundings for the next day's competition.

REC Para Winter Qualifiers 16 Feb

Next day it was back up to Richmond EC for a Para Winter Qualifier. We were all riding in the afternoon but still had to leave at 9am. The weather was sunny but cold but the facilities at Richmond are now excellent with both indoor and outdoor working in and competition arenas.

Trevor at Richmond

My two tests went well - I rode HC in the Grade III restricted and won the Grade III Team Test which meant I had qualified for the Winter Championships at Vale View. List 1 judge Gwyneth Lewis was judging and she was fair but quite strict with the marks. Eilish and Breda also won their para classes and Eilish was placed 3rd in the E44 as well.


Breda Bernie and Tula

Sue Joy rode Trevor for me in the E44 as he still needs more experience in indoor arenas. He spooked all the way around the indoor until Sue entered the arena and then he settled down to produce a nice test and ended up 2nd which was excellent! It did him a lot of good to be competed by an able-bodied rider - horses soon learn to take advantages of your weaknesses when you're a para rider and both of my horses are ridden regularly by able-bodied riders to keep them in check.

See the results from the para classes here.

Vale View Para Winter Qualifiers 17 Feb

Everyone was getting a bit tired by the Sunday, but we were spurred on by our good results on Saturday and managed to drag ourselves out of bed for the trip to Vale View. Again we were competing in the afternoon and we were blessed with good weather for the third day running. Eilish, Breda and Donie were very impressed by the excellent facilities at Vale View.

Eilish rode first in E44 and thought she could have ridden it much better - so she was very surprised to find she had won the restricted section and was 3rd overall. Well done!

Next it was my turn. Trevor was going even better than the day before and seemed quite relaxed. We went HC in the restricted Grade III and he did a nice test.

I was very surprised when I got my sheet as the score was much lower than expected.

Unfortunately my next test was with the same judge. Trevor produced an even better test in the Grade III Team Test (with one or two inaccuracies from me), but I was fairly confident of a good score.


Imagine my surprise when I found the judge had given us 63.08%! The score sheet showed little resemblance to my test and the judge hadn't even commented on my circles that were 8m and 18m instead of 10m and 20m. The only consolation was that GB team member Simon Laurens on his fabulous new horse was only given 65% by the same judge! The judge was from list 5 and maybe not very experienced in judging para tests, but when you are entering a qualifier for the Winter Championships you expect to get judges who are familiar with para dressage. Jane Goldsmith judged the Grade IV riders and was very strict with her marking. Only Michelle Crunkhorn achieved a score over 60% in the Open class.

I was very pleased with Trevor as he performed well over the three days and I am looking forward to my next dressage competition. Indi is coming back into work now after his rest so I will be back to competing 2 horses, This really takes the pressure off as you get to have a second chance if you mess up on the first horse!

My Irish team mates fared much better than me and scored over 70% in their para tests - from a different judge. It was good to see they were closing the gap on our British rivals!

We had a good day at Vale View as the organisers are always very good, but I feel that there was such a wide variance in the judging that something needs to be done to make the scoring in para tests more consistent. Scores ranged from 51% to 81% which is not something that would usually happen at an affiliated BD competition. Perhaps there is a need for more para judge training.

See the results from the para classes here.



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